Friday, July 2, 2010

Doing it to myself again

In the fall, I will teach a new curriculum in Writing 2. I want to teach a different curriculum because I was not satisfied with the way the OTHER new one on adaptation of film from literature worked out. I just didn't know enough about it and it turned out to be fantastically complicated.
I decided that sociological or political topics are probably best for Wr. 2. So, after watching A Clockwork Orange in my abortive film series last spring, I got an idea for another provocative class. Again, it's a topic I know nothing about... punishment and forgiveness. Now, I've taught a Wr. 1 with the theme of revenge for a year, so I know a bit about that, and it's part of the class I'll teach. But I know nothing at all about prisons, prison reform, rehabilitation, or the death penalty, all topics this one might entail. And choosing books is difficult.
Because I had to make a fast decision and didn't know where to turn, I went to Amazon and studied the available texts I found there, choosing one after going through the table of contents, reading a page, etc. Well, I made a very bad decision. The topic is interesting enough. It's an argument against state punishment of prisoners, but it's in such dense philosophical language that I can barely make it through a page. Not a keeper, and I've had the bookstore order it. Sigh.
I asked the librarians to help me, and will go to the bookstore today to un-order it. I am afraid I am doing what I did to myself last spring. But one can't teach the same curriculum over and over till she croaks. It's so boring, and I couldn't stand that. The only thing is, is not knowing what you're doing worse? I'm trying to get and read and stay a few steps ahead of the students the first time I teach it, as I did with modern slavery, and that worked out very very well. I hope I can do it again.


Lou said...

I reteach a text and assignment in order to perfect it so students learn from it. The first time I teach something, about all I learn is whether or not it is useful to try it again.

A side note--this morning, I helped Amy Heinze do the positive attendance for the WR 280 section that was assigned to both you and to her, so you don't need to file those grades, too.

Robbi said...

Thank you Lou. I had forgotten all about Wr. 180. I'm still not exactly okay. Today I feel rather teary, in fact. It has been exactly a month since my father's death.
RE: teaching texts, as with my PhD exam, I propose topics so that I can learn from them because when I learn, I can be engaging and exciting as a teacher. I teach them again so I can learn even more from them, but if it is a disaster, and that seldom happens, I am unlikely to do it again.
When I was in grad school, one of the professors I had (or perhaps it was a class I audited) said that this was exactly what he did when he taught. He used his classes as opportunities to write his books. I haven't done that, but I could, I suppose.